Note from the editor: The YMCA Queensland Youth Parliament is a Queensland Studies Authority accredited education program for young Queenslanders. The members of the 2011 YMCA Queensland Youth Parliament will officially be sworn in on Saturday 16th April during the weekend-long Forum in Brisbane. We’ve been asking the local representatives to tell you a bit about themselves via a guest post here.
Guest Post by Alison Dower
Who am I?
My name is Alison Dower, I am 23 years old and I live in the Greenslopes Electorate in the awesome suburb of Coorparoo. I have been selected as the Youth Member for Greenslopes for the YMCA Queensland Youth Parliament this year. In my role I hope to take the issues that affect young people and the community to the Youth Parliament and spend time discussing all the opportunities that we can think of to improve upon everyones experience of life in our community. The opportunity that I have been given in attending Queensland Youth Parliament is one that I am incredibly grateful for and will be utilising to its fullest capacity.
What do I do for fun?
I like being busy and packing as much into my week as I possibly can, presently I work full time as a Program Officer with Lifestream Foundation in East Brisbane supporting adults with intellectual disabilities. I am also learning AUSLAN (Australian Sign Language) at TAFE and completing my Bachelor of Social Work at QUT. I am also currently volunteering with YANQ (Youth Affair Network of Queensland). In my spare time I do rockclimbing, boxing and fitness and I practice my fire twirling skills. Studying, reading and sleeping do fit in there somewhere too. Over the years I have volunteered with the State Emergency Service and Lifestream Foundation and participated in tennis, touch footy, swimming and indoor and outdoor rockclimbing and hiking.
A little history…
I come from a family of five with two younger brothers and my parents still living in Carindale. I lived in the Chatsworth Electorate until I was 18 and first ventured into independence spending some time in the South Brisbane Electorate prior to my current residence in the Greenslopes Electorate where I have been now for one and a half years. I have a learning disability which has given me an excellent personal insight, as well as my professional and volunteer experience, into how people with various disabilities interact with the community, both the successes and the challenges. I am also involved in the mental health sector having recently seen 12 months of filming come to fruition with “The Silent Epidemic – The Science of Self Harm ” being aired on SBS in December 2010. This documentary was commissioned to expand awareness around self harm and the science behind it as well as some of the treatment options that are available to people who struggle with self harm. I have also been involved in various ways with the volunteering sector from the age of 18. I find it to be a highly rewarding way to support and thank the community that has supported me throughout my life.
What’s important to me?
Well as you may have noticed from my previous responses I am heavily involved in the disability sector both professionally and personally. I am very passionate about encouraging our society towards equity, equality and access for everyone regardless of their ability. I know first hand how much a person is capable of achieving and contributing to society if given the tools, support and encouragement to achieve.
I was a barely passing student in high school and was only diagnosed with the severity of learning disability that I have 6 months prior to graduating from my 12th year of school. Even with the diagnosis my school was not equipped to support someone like me so I scraped through gaining an OP of 17 which isn’t great. However I enjoyed learning far too much to let that stop me and when I commenced TAFE and was given the tools I needed to succeed, I jumped from barely passing to achieving high distinctions for my assignments and eventually graduating with a Diploma of Welfare Work with 6 high distinctions. Now I am completing my Bachelor of Social Work and I currently have a GPA of 6 which is a Distinction and I achieve Distinctions in the majority of my assessment.
I am telling you this story because to me it highlights just what a person is capable of achieving when given the tools they need to succeed. I am very passionate about developing ways to see everyone of every ability achieve everything they are capable of in a society of mutual respect, support and understanding.
Volunteering is another experience that I am keen on getting people involved with. There is so much to be gained from volunteering and so many opportunities and types of work that you can get involved with, so much of my life has been positively impacted by my involvement, as a volunteer, with various groups. The skills that you learn for just a small donation of time and the people whose lives you may positively change can be a truly mutually rewarding opportunity.
I am also quite passionate about mental health and young people. My exposure to the mental health sector was one of personal experience and so I participate in various research projects, petitions and projects that aim to increase understanding and acceptance as well as support to the mental health sector and especially to young people who are struggling with mental illness.
When I attend Queensland Youth Parliament this year, as a member of the Community Services committee, these will be the areas that I will be most prominently focusing on. However, as a representative of the young people I am absolutely open to any issue that I am informed of so please feel free to contact me via email and I will definately present it to the committee when we meet on the 16th and 17th of April.
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and I look forward to speaking with you about ideas that you would like me to present on your behalf.